Helmets save lives and should be considered an essential piece of equipment when climbing outdoors. They are not used in rock gyms (though it is not a bad idea), but they are included here because a helmet is an essential piece of all-around equipment.
They protect the climber and belayer from injury caused by falling objects, and also offer some protection in case of a fall. Like the seat belt in your car, your climbing helmet is the single most important piece of safety equipment you can use.
Years ago helmets were heavy, uncomfortable, and boring, but now helmets are so light, comfortable, and stylish that there is no excuse for not wearing one.
After a while, you will not even notice that it is on your head. Helmet use has increased in recent years-just as it did in bicycling a decade ago; it is a good trend.
Helmet Safety Dynamics
- Construction: Most helmets are made of either fiberglass or sonic kind of plastic. Plastic helmets are lighter. Helmets are designed to protect the climber from the impact of falling objects. Some also provide side impact protection when a climber falls. They all have a suspension that keeps the helmet off the climber’s head and are held on the climber’s head by a chin strap.
- Strength Characteristics: Climbing helmets are designed to absorb impact but they are not magic. They cannot protect the climber from big rocks, chunks of ice, or long, hard falls.
- Care: Check regularly for cracking or delaminating. Fiberglass helmets last longer, up to fifteen years if not damaged. Because they break down chemically when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light, plastic helmets have a shorter life span, about five years.